Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Quirk Books

352 pages

I know, I know.  ANOTHER review for Peculiar Children.  It’s getting ridiculous, but it’s for good reason.  Because seriously, you have to read this book.  If you have previously been on the fence about it, I am about to convince you to bite the bullet and pick it up.

Jacob grew up hearing a myriad of creepy, paranormal stories from his grandfather.  Levitating girls, invisible boys and the like.  As a kid, he believed the stories unflinchingly, but as he grew older, he believed his grandfather was feeding him fairy tales and he became a a skeptic.  That is, until his grandfather died.

The death left a void for Jacob, and in an attempt to come to terms with it, as well as his grandfather’s life, he travels to the Welsh island where his grandfather spent his adolescence, at a group home that Jacob thought was for refugee children from the war.

So Jacob’s exploring the island.  He is hoping to find Miss Peregrine, who is the matron of the home, but when he finally finds the home, it is obviously abandoned.  In fact, it was bombed during WWII, just after Jacob’s grandfather left.

So that’s when the weird shit starts to happen.  Jacob is able to travel back to September 3,

One of the many creepy photos.

1940 and all of a sudden, he is in this parallel universe with his grandfather’s peers.  And boy are they peculiar!

It’s pretty obvious by my preface that I loved this book.  It was so atmospheric, as well as deliciously creepy.  The paranormal aspect is not generally something I go for, but I am glad I gave it a chance.  Maybe someday I will be head over heels for the genre.  I thought it was done at just the right pace, with enough realism in it to keep me interested.

My biggest question once I finished the books was perhaps an unfair one.  Would Peculiar Children be as good without the pictures?  Do the pictures make the book? My answer is that the pictures add such a cool element to the story that they take an average plot line and turn it into something special.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much without the pictures, but that’s not to say it’s a bad story.  I am just a sucker for pictures.

We’re heading into cooler days (although you wouldn’t know that today.  It feels like the middle of summer again!), and what could be better than to curl up with a good book? With Halloween coming up, this one is the perfect choice.

Other Reviews:

Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Good Books and Good Wine

Jenn’s Bookshelves

Fizzy Thoughts

Capricious Reader

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

This book counts towards RIP VI.

Book Review: In Trouble

In Trouble

Ellen Levine

Carolrhoda Books

200 pages

Imagine you’re back in high school.  You have all the trials and tribulations that comes along with the age: school, romance, friendships.  Now imagine you’re pregnant.  What do you do?  Tell your parents? Keep it to yourself? It’s such a scary time and yet, what we don’t realize is that over the decades, being a pregnant teenager has gotten just a tiny bit easier.

Jamie and Elaine are growing up in a time prior to Roe vs Wade.  The options available to a pregnant girl in their day and age are limited.  Abortion is illegal, so in order to obtain one it is necessary to be as discreet as possible.  It’s sort of an underground railroad of sorts, and you have to have the right connections and information in order to even find a doctor willing to perform an abortion.

If abortion isn’t an option, then the girl “in trouble” basically has two other avenues; she can marry the baby’s father and thus raise the child as a family or she can enter an unwed mother’s home and give her baby up for adoption.  Obviously the options are even more limited than they are today and the stigma is even greater.

I think In Trouble is a valuable resource for young girls today.  Their options may be more numerous but the struggle and confusion is still there.  Both Jamie and Elaine have the typical teenage response by digging their heads in the sand and trying to ignore the problem.  Elaine has been with her boyfriend for awhile and is “in love”, so she is convinced that her boyfriend will marry her now that she is pregnant, despite his lack of empathy and consideration.  Meanwhile, Jamie is trying to smack Elaine with a heavy dose of reality even though Jamie can’t face her own reality.

The first half of In Trouble was a bit slow for me.  There was just no impact, and Levine made the mistake of trying to focus on another storyline, which was Jamie’s father being imprisoned (this being the McCarthy era) for his communist empathy. Jamie and Elaine had such a big story to focus on that I really thought the book had too much going on with the communist subplot.  Thematically, it made sense because Jamie’s father now had his freedom and he was trying to inspire Jamie with her own freedom, but I think it she could have accomplished it in a different way.

Teen pregnancy is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I was happy that Levine was able to tackle such a serious issue in a way that was thoughtful and full of meaning.  If the idea of adoption and unwed mother homes interests you, I would suggest The Girl’s Who Went Away, by Ann Fessler.  It is a compilation of true life stories about women who gave their babies up for adoption prior to Roe vs Wade.  It is a phenomenal book with a big impact.

Other Reviews:

None that I could find.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

Book Review: Bumped


Megan McCafferty

Balzer & Bray

336 pages

The year is 2036 and a widespread virus has made anyone over the age of 18 infertile.  Thus, the teenage population has the sole responsibility of reproducing for the rest of the population.  Many teenagers are under contract, with many perks promised once they deliver a child.  Melody is one such teen.  She has a very promising contract but has yet to get pregnant as the couple that contracted her haven’t settled on a male donor yet.

Meanwhile, Melody has just discovered that she has a twin.  Harmony has grown up on a religious compound, so the world she is used to is quite different from the one Melody inhabits.  She is visiting Melody in an attempt to convince her of her errant ways, but in turn, she is influenced by Melody’s environment.

My plot synopsis is paltry at best, but I think Bumped is best experienced when you have little knowledge of what to expect.  One element to be aware of though would be the slang involved in the text.  It was overwhelming to me for the first 30 pages or so, and I was skeptical as to whether I would be able to overcome that.  By the end, I had come to appreciate the vernacular and how it added to the climate of the story.  Just be forewarned though that it can be a little difficult to ingratiate yourself.

I have read other reviews that have an issue with the serious issue of teen pregnancy being somewhat glamorized and not seen with the gravity it demands.  I certainly see the argument of that line of thinking, and I am not sure where I fall on that continuum.  I can see how the novel could be seen as a bit distasteful but it is, after all, a work of fiction and in the end, my enjoyment of the novel wasn’t altered.

Bumped is the first book in a series, which is problematic to someone like me who ultimately enjoyed the book so much that I want to immediately get my hands on a copy of the second book in the series.  Bumped was just published last month so I am guessing we have a long wait. If you have any information on the second book, please let me know! I have tried to find more information, but have come up with nothing!

Other Reviews:

Book Addiction

Presenting Lenore

The Zen Leaf

I purchased this book for my Kindle.

Book Review: Dangerous Neighbors

Dangerous Neighbors

Beth Kephart

Egmont USA

192 pages

Very few of us know what it is like to be a twin.  The unbreakable bond that comes along with such a relationship is unfathomable, even if the two people in question are unaware of it.  Katherine has had a tumultuous relationship with her twin sister Anna over the past few months, as Anna attempts to break free of the tight knit relationship the sisters share.  Although Katherine is deeply frustrated and irritated over Anna’s defection, her whole world collapses when Anna dies and she is left alone.

Dangerous Neighbors begins after Anna’s death, as Katherine struggles to cope with what has happened.  She is desolate and completely without hope, which pervades the emotional backdrop of the book.  Although it is a theme that could take place anywhere, at any time, the setting is actually Philadelphia in 1876, during which time the centennial celebration is taking place.  I was anticipating a rich historical background with some good drama and enlightenment, and the setting did not disappoint in that respect.  I have an issue when it comes to reading YA historical fiction, that issue being that it is just not a genre I often pick up.  There is no reason as to why that is.  I enjoy historical fiction.  I enjoy YA fiction.  Apparently it just doesn’t come together for me all too often.

Jen, from Devourer of Books, was kind enough to send me a copy of Dangerous Neighbors after I commented on her blog that I wanted to read it.  Quite possibly she was just getting sick of me commenting on every review post of Kephart that I planned to read her but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet!  However, I am going to be honest and say that I wasn’t as impressed with this book as much as I had hoped to or expected to be.  I was kind of expectant, given that Jen’s review clearly mentioned that it was not her favorite Kephart book.  I went into it totally intrigued by the synopsis, and while there were interesting parts in the book, they happened few and far between.  Not to be a total copycat, but I agree with Jen’s theory that maybe Kephart focused too much on her writing style and not as much on following through with the plot. There were way too many holes and too much dead space.  For a book that was only two hundred pages, there were times when it felt a lot longer.

I wouldn’t say that Dangerous Neighbors has turned me off of Kephart completely.  In any normal circumstance, I probably would not read anything else by an author after reading such a lackluster book, but given the fact that Kephart is a pretty well revered YA author around the blogosphere, I would definitely be willing to give her another go.

Other Reviews:

Devourer of Books

Dear Author

Books, Movies & Chinese Food

Write Meg!

Word Lily

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

Caribous Mom

Booking Mama

I received a copy of this book from a fellow blogger.

Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Mary Pearson

Henry Holt & Co

272 pages

Jenna Fox is a teenage girl who has woken up after being in a coma for over a year.  She cannot even begin to wrap her head around what has happened.  All she knows is she is now in California with her mother and grandmother and she has no recollection of the past year, or her entire life for that matter.

I started this book not realizing there was a dystopian slant to it, but things were odd straight off the bat.  Jenna’s grandmother Lilly is acting completely bizarre, for one.  It’s almost as if she dislikes Jenna, and it was impossible to pinpoint why she was acting that way towards Jenna.  Then there’s the fact that there are locked doors . . . what are the adults in the family trying to hide?  Not to mention, why are they in California now and why is Jenna’s mother so against her going to school.

As you can see, there were clues straight from the get go that made it obvious to me that this book was much more than I expected it to be.  The second half of the book became extremely interesting as Jenna’s circumstances were unveiled, and the ethical aspect of that became one of the main themes of the book.  It was also very thought provoking for me and I was never able to completely decide my stance on the issue, even now that I have had a week to ruminate over it.

I found the ending to be . . . interesting.  I am not sure whether I can appreciate the epilogue.  I found it to be kind of unnecessary and I felt like it was just kind of tacked on there, but at the same time, I felt a weird sense of solace knowing how everything turned out. Obviously I am a bit conflicted, and I think it is due to the execution of the epilogue.  It just seemed to be poorly done, and I think Pearson could have added a lot to the story had the epilogue been more deftly written.

Overall, dystopian fiction has become a bit tedious for me recently so I was glad that this book was able to capture my interest.

Other Reviews:

Rhapsody in Books

Hey Lady, Watcha Readin’?

S Krishna’s Book Reviews

Maw Books Blog


The Zen Leaf


Devourer of Books

I borrowed this book from my local library.

This book counts towards the YA-D2 challenge.

Book Review: Wintergirls


Laurie Halse Anderson


288 pages

Lia is in trouble.  She has serious body issues that are dragging her down fast.  She has been institutionalized for anorexia but her demons won’t let go, and every time she looks in the mirror, she sees the same thing–a fat girl.

Her family is doing everything they can to help her, but Lia cannot overcome her disease.  The tragedy grows even more as Lia’s former friend Cassie is found dead in a seedy motel room.  Cassie was bulimic, and she and Lia were like partners in crime, always egging each other on when it came to their eating disorders.

Cassie’s death is a wake up call to Lia and, more importantly, to Lia’s family.  They are overwhelmed with grief at the state Lia is in and the fact that no matter what they do, they cannot get through to Lia.  Lia has isolated herself from everyone she was once close to, and with Cassie’s death she is plagued by an even deeper void.

Anderson has been kind of hit and miss for me thus far.  I loved Fever 1793 abd thought it was an exemplary work of YA historical fiction.  Then I read Speak.  I didn’t dislike it–I think that my issue was just that I wasn’t wowed.  I expected so much after reading all types of glowing reviews for it and then it was just a “meh” read.  I think that it tackled a very important issue and I really respect how powerful it is, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I had a hard time connecting with the book personally.

All that aside, this isn’t a review of Speak.  When it comes to Wintergirls, I felt like the writing style was eerily similar to that of Speak.  This time, I had no issued with connectivity. Lia felt so real to me and was able to sympathize with her situation.  It has been eight years since I graduated high school, but I feel like Anderson really captures the emotion and upheaval that most teenage girls constantly face. I think that is ultimately what makes an extraordinary YA author–someone who, as an adult, is still able to channel the thoughts and reactions of a teenager.

Wintergirls is a great example of meaningful YA fiction.  Whether you are already a fan of Anderson or you have yet to read any of her books, I urge you to pick it up.

Other Reviews:

Book Nut

Hey Lady! Watcha Readin?

Presenting Lenore

Beth Fish Reads

Maw Books Blog

Bookgirl’s Nightstand

Devourer of Books

I borrowed this book from my local library.